Ski Mountaineering

Grinnell Ridge and Mountain, San Gorgonio Wilderness

July 23-24, 2011

May Adachi

This was my second I provisional, an overnight backpack, South Fork trail head to Grinnell camp for the night, up the ridge X-country to Grinnell mountain, down from the mountaintop, X-country, to Lodgepole spring, onto the trail and back to the cars. With me were fellow ski mountaineers Jim Garvey; Jake Faller; and coleader Mark Goebel; as well as West LA WTC co-instructor Mark Petersen; and last but not least, workmate Alix Ng; and her best friend, Christiany. Both of these girls had never backpacked, so everyone kindly, humorously, and patiently pitched in to help, amuse, and advise them! I'm pretty certain the men enjoyed their instructor roles most of the time, especially since a couple of them have especially talkative natures!

We left the trail head midafternoon in the heat, but the air eventually cooled as we very leisurely walked up the trail. Did I say leisurely? Jake even cracked open a giant watermelon for us! We got to the little frequented but lovely Grinnell camp at 7p.m.! A mile below camp we were able to load up on any needed water; the stream we crossed was rushing and beautiful. Wine, a communal cold dinner, cookies, bourbon (was it?) and stories followed. The girls brought nori, seasoned/dried seaweed; and tinned eel, to add to the dinner, to the delight of all! Bed under the stars for most of us by 10pm latest, surely! I, ha, ha, saw a super, shooting star!

I hustled hot water for coffee, tea and cake for everyone Sunday a.m. I even brought the girls' tea to their tent! I was their personal porter! We were off trail and up the hill by 7:30a.m. We did run into what we thought was a downed birthday balloon. It turned out to be a memorial balloon in the form of a Hello Kitty sent up by a deceased girl's family. Jake took a photo of the inscription, and I still have the balloon. Going was ... slow. Several bumps to go up and down along that Grinnell ridge there are! Fortunately, the sky became overcast. My incentive was the remains of that watermelon to be had on top! But lunch was not on top of that mountain round, as anticipated, but somewhat before. It did include tinned, boiled quails eggs (I got one!) brought by the girls to everyone's amusement, once again. After the anticlimactic Grinnell top came the descent to the spring. This was tricky going for the girls. Mark Goebel helped and coaxed them down.

Finally, the spring, and back to the trail! Nothing left but a long, slog back to the trail head; it was cool, though, and almost raining there for a minute! The girls had made it down, but energy was flagging, so their packs were taken on by porters Mark Petersen and Jim (thank you!). Trail head at 7pm? Yes, it's true. It was a long day, but the whole thing was much fun, and a great experience! Thank you, everyone, and I hope the girls will be back!

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